Teen driving raises concerns

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A poorly parked student vehicle. (Schuyler Yager)

By Alivia Lee, Co-Editor in Chief

High school may include some of the most eventful, stressful, and/or amazing years of a student’s life bringing along new experiences, opportunities, wisdom, and responsibilities, but out of these mixed up and lively teen years an issue of danger and uncertainty emerges, teen driving got. So many teens look forward to the day where they can finally get their licences, go off on new adventures, and finally stop relying on mom and dad to chauffeur them around, but with this new found freedom of driving comes a plethora of worries and consequences.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (HLDI) motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers with 2,524 vehicle related deaths in 2013. Other statistics from HLDI include that per driven mile teen drivers have crash rates three times those of drivers aged 20 or older, teenage motor vehicle crash deaths accounted for nine percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths, exceeding that of both motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths, and that when new/ teen drivers simply are sending or looking at received text messages on their phone they are four times more likely to be in a crash or near crash experience than if they were not using a phone.

“We are so inexperienced with driving,” said junior Kourtney Grunlien. “We let things like our phones, friends, and music distract us which can cause accidents.”

The problem with teen drivers is that they are simply inexperienced and do not understand everything about driving. After having a driver’s license for a few short months, there are still so many things that need to be learned and can really only be learned through on the road experience.

In a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention it was concluded that, “young people ages 15-24 represent only 14% of the U.S. population. However, they account for 30% ($19 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among males and 28% ($7 billion) of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries among females.”

Compared to any other age group, both male and female teenagers/young adults account for about a third of the total costs of injuries from motor vehicle related incidents. Though many claim that teenage boys are more likely to take driving risks and less careless this statistic supports how teenagers in general are more likely to be less cautious drivers.

“I think males and females can both choose to be either careful or reckless drivers,” said Junior Daniel Smith. “Your gender doesn’t affect your driving ability. Teen drivers are more likely to get in accidents because they simply don’t have as much experience as the middle aged driver.”

It seems that the issue of bad driving is more centered around the lack of experience among the young rather than the actual carelessness and recklessness of teenagers. Though the issues of getting a few speeding tickets, hitting the median here and there, or even running a red light every once in awhile does not seem significant at the time, the outrageous amount of consequences and statistics that back them up point to the dangers and uncertainty of teenage drivers.

But are there any real solutions to putting a stop to these unfortunate statistics of vehicular related teen deaths, skyrocketing crash rates, teen injuries relating to vehicular incidents? It looks as if teens can only become better and more cautious drivers through experience and learning to eliminate distractions but if these ramifications had more of an impact on more young people, they would see the importance in undistracted driving and learning the ropes of safe driving.